The Blue Angels will not soar and roar and boom over the Bay Area this October. They will not jet and pirouette, and many fans of the Navy’s demonstration squadron will be sad when Fleet Week rolls around.
It’s not that the stunt fliers have lost popularity or been called to the defense of the country. Rather the sequestration budget cuts have grounded them.
So that raises the question, “How much do the Blue Angels cost?” As it happens, News Fix delved into that very question the last time the fliers were in town.
No one from the Navy wanted to comment, but based on this document, we came up with a total budget of $40 million.
The Blue Angels planned 34 shows in 2013, of which 28 were two-day events, including a visit to the Bay Area for Fleet Week Oct. 12-13.
The Fleet Week planners, Air Show Network, estimated that a million people watched the Blue Angels in the Bay Area, which would mean that the cost was in the ballpark of $1 per person. Maybe it’s time for the Navy to pass a hat.
So how did we get to this turn of events?
The sequestration cuts date back to August 2011, when Democrats and Republicans in Congress were battling over the amount the federal government could legally borrow to pay its bills.
Republicans didn’t want to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to budget cuts. Democrats didn’t want to cut, or at least not much.
As a compromise, Congress came up with a package of cuts that would go into effect if a bipartisan committee couldn’t come up with a better deal: $850 billion would be subtracted from the budgets of dozens of federal agencies over 10 years, and half of it would come out of the military.
But the committee failed to strike a deal. This time most Democrats wanted to use both tax increases and budget cuts to reach a more balanced budget. Most Republicans would not consider a tax increase. So the sequestration cuts went into effect starting March 1.
Various departments have been figuring out what to cut, and the Navy came up with the Blue Angels, among other programs.
A lot remains to be determined. Here are the reductions that President Barack Obama warned California to expect, back when he was trying to convince Congress what a bad idea sequestration would be: